Report outlines important work of Human Trafficking Commission, highlights next steps in stopping modern day slavery LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has released the 2015 Michigan Human Trafficking Commission Annual Report to the governor and legislature, highlighting the important work the commission has accomplished and setting the stage to continue the fight against this form of modern slavery. “Human trafficking has been one of my top priorities since taking office. The challenging nature of these cases require a focus on the victims and the desperate circumstances they find themselves in,” said Schuette. “And my office has worked closely with law enforcement across the State of Michigan to prosecute traffickers in our state and put an end to their trade.” Over the last year, the Human Trafficking Commission worked on the following: Developed recommended legislative changes involving human trafficking, including increasing the penalty for sex traffickers and allow victims to clear prostitution-related juvenile convictions; Began development of expanded human trafficking training videos to educate medical professionals on the mental and physical signs of human trafficking with the Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland County Medical Societies ; Gathered information to assist victim service agencies identify safe locations for human trafficking victims; Identified grants for local and state law enforcement, medical professionals and others to assist in countering human trafficking. The full 2015 Michigan Human Trafficking Commission Report is available at the bottom of this press release. The next meeting of the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission will be on April 26, 2016, followed by meetings on July 27 and November 2, 2016. Michigan Human Trafficking Commission In 2014, several bills recommended by Michigan's first-ever Commission on Human Trafficking passed the Michigan legislature and were signed into law. The Commission-recommended bills included measures to provide ‘safe harbor' for victims of human trafficking, strengthen the tools of law enforcement to hold traffickers accountable, and, 2014 PA 325 created a standing Michigan Human Trafficking Commission within the Department of Attorney General to continue the work of the first Michigan Human Trafficking Commission. The Commission is comprised of representatives from government, law enforcement, medical professionals and advocates. Human Trafficking in Michigan Second only to drug trafficking, human trafficking is the fastest-growing and second-largest criminal industry in the world. Victims of human trafficking are in bondage through force, fraud or coercion, solely for the purpose of sex or labor exploitation. Children are especially vulnerable, and existing data sources strongly suggest that the current reported human trafficking statistics do not provide a complete picture of the prevalence of human trafficking in Michigan. Upon taking office in 2011, Schuette launched the state's first Human Trafficking Unit in the Attorney General's Office to prosecute human traffickers under state law. Since 2011, eleven people have been charged with human trafficking by the Department of Attorney General. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has also had an active presence in human trafficking cases in Michigan. In October of 2015, 19 underage victims were recovered and 12 pimps were arrested in the Detroit metro area as part of the FBI’s Operation Cross County IX. Schuette served as one of ten attorneys general nationwide selected to lead the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Presidential Initiative on Combating Human Trafficking, called Pillars of Hope. Schuette works closely with his colleagues to craft a coordinated national strategy to combat human trafficking, including efforts to prosecute offenders, assist victims, analyze the impact of this crime and raise public awareness nationwide.
Key players in the Michigan Legislature and state departments of DHS and DCH each were sent a special news release this week, announcing the Federation’s launch of three new MINs to address the areas of Family Preservation, Behavioral Health, and Performance/Quality Management. The release speaks to the extensive expertise within member agencies that makes the Federation “the go-to resource for legislators and state and federal policy makers for advice and guidance as they are challenged with addressing the needs of children and families and regulating and monitoring the organizations that care for them.”
Detroit News— It was just a few months ago that LaKeisha Johnson and her small children slept in a car when they couldn't count on a relative or a friend to provide them with a place to stay.
On Thursday, Johnson, 24, showed off her new two-bedroom apartment at Oakman Place Apartments, part of a program to house young, homeless adults, as well as those who have aged out of the state's foster care system.
"This is beautiful," said Johnson, as she showed off the expansive ground floor apartment, fully furnished with new furniture. "It doesn't seem real."
The 24-unit, three-story complex on Oakman Boulevard near Woodrow Wilson includes gated parking and a washer and dryer in each apartment.
The $5.1 million development is the result of a partnership that includes Lutheran Child & Family Service of Michigan, Focus:HOPE and Michigan State Housing Development Authority MSHDA.
Robert G. Miles, president and CEO of Lutheran Child & Family Service of Michigan, said the Oakman Place program provides adequate housing and other support services for homeless youth and those who "age out of the welfare system."
"Very few of our own children make the transition into adulthood without ongoing support and supportive services," Miles said. "Through this development, we have become more sensitized to the number of families who are challenged to find adequate, safe and affordable housing."
Miles said Thursday he hopes the residents will "love each other, support each other and become a community."
Selecting the first families to live in Oakman Place was a difficult task for social worker Carolyn Rayford, the deputy regional director for Lutheran Child & Family Service.
"That was pretty emotional deciding which person to choose," Rayford said Thursday. "We had well over 100 applicants."
Rayford said there is no time limit to how long the residents can stay in the apartments. They also receive job assistance and support programs for continuing their education.
Johnson, who is six months pregnant, said she is looking forward to re-enrolling in college to become a math teacher so she can support herself and her kids.
The residents pay between $2 and $300 a month rent for their apartments on a sliding scale depending on their income.
Department of Human Services Director Maura Corrigan, who attended the grand opening of Oakman Place, said the program shows "compassion is alive in our city and our state."
Sierra Spencer, another resident of Oakman Place, said Thursday she had exhausted all options for a place to live, and the opportunity at the complex came along at the right time.
"Thanks to Lutheran Family & Child Services, he's able to have a home," Spencer said of her infant son, whom she cradled at Thursday's luncheon.
"I didn't know what I was going to do," said Spencer. "It's amazing how lucky we both got."
LANSING, October 6, 2011 – Child and Family Charities (formerly Child & Family Services, Capital Area) publicly announced the organization’s name change and new logo with an unveiling of their new sign on Monday, October 3, 2011 at the agency’s main office building located at 4287 Five Oaks Drive, Lansing, MI 48911.
Attending the festivities were community leaders, board members, volunteers, and agency staff. This year marked Child and Family Charities’ 100 years of service to the mid-Michigan region, established in 1911 as Lansing Associated Charities. Michelle Reurink, President, Child and Family Charities Board of Directors, stated, “It was the significance of the anniversary combined with long- standing name ambiguity that compelled us to action in selecting a name that better reflects the agency’s focus and cultivates stronger community support.” Jim Paparella, Executive Director, added, “The new name and look takes us back to the very roots of our founding purpose as a charitable organization: to serve as an effective partner for social change through programs and initiatives which benefit children, families, and community. At the same time, the change recognizes years of strategic growth through collaboration and alliances, from the advent of Angel House to recent mergers with Lansing Teen Court and Child Abuse Prevention Services.”
The agency’s core divisions include Child Welfare Services, Family Services, Child Abuse Prevention Services, Juvenile Justice Services, and Residential Services. If you would like more information about Child and Family Charities, please call Demphna Krikorian at (517) 882-4000, extension 126 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Detroit, MI (August 15, 2011). The Children’s Center is very pleased to announce that Chief Executive Officer Debora Matthews was selected to receive the 2011 EP Maxwell J. Schleifer Distinguished Service Award. This award is given to distinguished individuals as part of Disabilities Awareness Day recognition events nationwide. Debora was chosen from an impressive list of local candidates for her dedication and commitment to, and advocacy for, those with special needs.
The mission of Disability Awareness Night (DAN) is to expand awareness of the 54.6 million Americans living with disabilities, by highlighting their extraordinary achievements and the perseverance and dedication of the families, physicians, nurses, therapists, educators and other caregivers involved in their care and development. The presentation of the EP Maxwell J. Schleifer Distinguished Service Award (named after the founder and former editor-in-chief of Exceptional Parent magazine, EP) at each Disability Awareness Night signifies the remarkable accomplishments that can be achieved under difficult circumstances.
Debora was honored on August 17 at 6:30 p.m. at Comerica Park prior to the Detroit Tigers game. The Children’s Center took more than 50 children and their families to the park for the ceremony and game, compliments of sponsors Barbara Gill, Principal, Seymour Gill Financial, a MassMutual agency and their Special Care program and Exceptional Parent Magazine.
According to Debora Matthews, “This award is truly an honor. I get the greatest reward seeing hope on the faces of children when they finally understand their so-called disability really gives them the ability to strive for a greater future.”
A Michigan judge might relax on Monday an aggressive schedule for a top-to-bottom overhaul of the state’s child welfare system.
Representatives of the Michigan Department of Human Services, a New York child advocacy group, and a federal court monitor have been preparing for a periodic progress report in a 2008 settlement designed to better care for thousands of Michigan children. The state has repeatedly missed crucial benchmarks.
Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds scheduled a hearing Monday to consider a “modified consent decree.”
Details were not immediately available, but the hearing may signal a drastic change. In December, the state faced the possibility of a contempt of court ruling after it repeatedly failed to meet the conditions of the agreement that began with a 2006 lawsuit by New York-based Children’s Rights.
The group criticized the state for what it described as life-threatening poor care for children. Years of budget cuts, the loss of experienced social service workers and the state’s failure to tap into federal funding contributed to the crisis, according to the suit.
But since the beginning of the year and a change in leadership at DHS — it is now headed by Maura Corrigan, a former Michigan Supreme Court justice — caseloads have shrunk, fewer children are waiting for adoption, and new technology for field and office workers will help track cases and address critical data gaps.
“What has been accomplished since January is monumental,” said Janet Reynolds, executive director of Michigan Federation for Children and Families, which represents private, nonprofit foster care and adoption agencies.
The 2008 agreement, though well-intentioned, set standards too high for a state in financial crisis, said Jack Kresnak, president and CEO of Michigan’s Children, and a former Free Press reporter.
“Scaling back the requirements will mean we might be able to meet them.… We need to put this behind us,” he said.
Contact Robin Erb: 313-222-2708 or email@example.com
Lansing Teen Court, a community-based and highly collaborative program of Child & Family Services, announced today that it has awarded Don LeDuc, president and dean of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, with the organization's first-ever Community Recognition Award.
"To say the least, we are grateful for Don's civic-minded nature, his commitment to education and his support of creative and community-based methods of resolving juvenile justice and community challenges through collaboration," said Mike Botke, director of Teen Court.
The basis for the Community Recognition Award includes making a significant contribution to the community, whether monetary or in deed. LeDuc is the first to receive the award and was selected to honor his commitment, not only to Teen Court, but to community collaboration as well.
"Cooley is honored to be involved with the Teen Court program," said LeDuc. "Our staff, professors and students have embraced this program, as it gives a second chance to young people and provides an invaluable service to the Lansing community."
Teen Court is a juvenile justice diversion program for juveniles who are first-time, nonviolent offenders. Juveniles who participate in Teen Court face a jury of their peers who are local high school students. During a Teen Court hearing, the youth admits guilt, accepts responsibility for the harm caused and explains his/her situation to the jurors, who can then ask questions about the case under the supervision of trained Teen Court staff. After the hearing, jurors deliberate and determine appropriate sanctions based on restorative justice principles, from doing community service or an apology letter to drug testing and anger management classes. Unlike traditional sentencing, juveniles who successfully complete the Teen Court program will have no formal record.
Cooley Law School has been one of Teen Court's key program partners since the program’s founding in April 2001. Cooley students, faculty and staff serve as youth advocates, adult jury monitors and assist with Street Law workshops, which provide practical information about the law and the legal system and encourage participants to become effective, law-abiding citizens by promoting civic responsibility and community participation. Cooley Law School also provides in-kind donations of courtroom facilities, offices for business operations and classroom space for Street Law workshops.
Cooley's contributions have helped Teen Court serve nearly 5,500 teenagers since 2001, and more than 90 percent of the 1,300 offenders who completed the program did not commit any other crimes.
Teen Court is currently being piloted at Cooley Law School's Grand Rapids Campus, in association with the Kent County Family Court, the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office, and the juvenile probation system.
Vistas Nuevas Head Start, a program of Matrix Human Services will host its’ annual Celebrations of Culture Parade on Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 10am. More than 1400 head start children will march from Holy Redeemer Church to Clark Park in celebration of the various cultures in the Detroit community.
The Celebrations of Culture Parade will represent several countries around globe in support the diversity that is among all of us each and every day. Those countries include: Spain, Trinidad and Tabago, Hawaii, Ecuador, Ghana, Mexico, Scotland, Puerto Rico, Native American, Lebanon, Brazil, France, Portugal.
Vistas Nuevas Head Start is the largest head start program in the city of Detroit. Vistas’ has more than 1400 children annually, teaches in 3 languages (English, Spanish and Arabic) and operates 13 locations all located in Detroit’s Southwest community.
“This annual event highlights the multi-cultural community we live and serve in everyday. It is important for our children to know, celebrate and embrace the differences within all of us.” – states Debra Spring, Vice President of Education and Director of Vistas Nuevas
The Celebrations of Culture Parade will end at Clark Park with children’s activities, free food (while supplies last), vendors and community organizations supporting this wonderful event. The event is from 10am – 2pm.
Matrix Human Services, inspired by its’ heritage since 1906, advocates and serves the most vulnerable in the metropolitan Detroit community and empowers individuals and families to enhance the quality of their lives and achieve self sufficiency.
Visit www.matrixhumanservices.org for more information
Prosecutor, police chief back early childhood education, dropout prevention programs
WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 28, 2010) -- Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton and Mundy Township Police Chief James Petres traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with Representative Dale Kildee (D-MI) to discuss opportunities to reduce crime through the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Representative Kildee will be a key legislator in the reauthorization of that bill as the chair of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education.
They said that providing at-risk kids with early education, keeping school-age kids on track to graduation, and reducing bullying, school violence and drug abuse would all have a positive effect on preventing later crime.
“I’d much rather focus our time, energy and taxpayer dollars on effective school reforms than pay room and board for career criminals,” Prosecutor Leyton said. “Public safety pays the toll when kids drop out of school and turn to crime rather than a career or higher education. We need to make sure kids get the right start to their education and stay on track through their school years.”
Research compiled by the anti-crime group Fight Crime: Invest in Kids also shows that a one-year increase of staying in school reduces murder and assault by almost 30 percent, motor vehicle theft by 20 percent, arson by 13 percent and burglary and larceny by about 6 percent. A study funded by the Gates Foundation found that high school dropouts are eight times more likely to be incarcerated than graduates.
Providing at-risk children with high-quality early care and education from ages birth to five can significantly reduce later involvement in crime and improve graduation rates. A study of the Perry Preschool in Ypsilanti, Mich. found that at-risk kids left out of the high-quality program were 5 times more likely to be chronic offenders by age 27 than their peers left out of the program. The kids who attended were also 44 percent more likely to graduate from high school than those left out.
“By making sure the more at-risk kids can receive early education, we’ll help set them on a path toward graduation day instead of a sentencing date in court,” Chief Petres said. “These approaches have a significant impact on reducing juvenile crime, and law enforcement leaders strongly support them because they will make our communities safer in years to come.”
The law enforcement leaders asked that the reauthorization of the federal education bill provide new funding for states with the purpose of increasing access to high-quality early education programs, including pre-kindergarten.
They also urged that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act ensure graduation rates are calculated consistently and accurately, and hold schools accountable for improving graduation rates. Additionally, they asked that the reform measure include evidence-based programs that cut down on bullying, school violence and drug abuse.
Chief Petres and Prosecutor Leyton are members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a national anti-crime organization of police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors and violence survivors with over 330 members in Michigan and more than 5,000 members nationwide.
Michigan Department of Human Services, Partners:
You Don’t Have to Be Perfect to Be a Perfect Parent
April 28, 2010
The Michigan Department of Human Services will run radio public service announcements and newspaper ads statewide starting in May to recruit foster and adoptive parents, Director Ismael Ahmed said today.
“Some say we’re asking foster parents to take on a big burden,” Ahmed said at a Grand Rapids event today. “I say it’s an opportunity. Yes, we’re asking people to take on a huge responsibility, but as a father of five I can tell you that you get a thousand times in love what you invest.”
DHS and its partners, including Bethany Christian Services and the
Michigan Federation for Children and Families, are recruiting foster and adoptive parents for the 16,000 children in Michigan’s foster care system. Of those children in foster care, almost 4,000 are available for adoption because they are state or court wards after their parents’ rights were terminated by a court due to abuse or neglect.
The spots and ads are part of an Ad Council campaign – You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent – developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Adopt Us Kids, which works to raise awareness about the need for foster and adoptive families, and supports states in their own efforts. They’ve allowed Michigan to use their messages and materials, and to route interested parents who contact them to the appropriate state contacts. For more information, visit www.adoptuskids.org or call toll-free 888-200-4005. For Spanish, visit www.adopte1.org or call toll-free 877-236-7831.
The public service announcements use humor and everyday life situations to demonstrate that adopting a child from foster care isn’t about “being perfect,” but rather about the commitment demonstrated by normal interactions between any parent and a child in a loving parent/child relationship. They are running in May because it’s National Foster Care Month.
“This is a time to recognize the generous families who step up to become foster parents, and also a time to raise awareness of the need for more dedicated families who will foster, mentor or adopt a vulnerable child in need of a family,” said Brian DeVos, director of operations for Michigan at Bethany Christian Services. “Our community is committed to meeting the needs of these children and their families.”
Tammy Schnyders, who lives in Grand Rapids with her 11 children, applauded the campaign effort.
“These kids really need a home,” said Schnyders, who has adopted nine children. “They need a chance to succeed and to live with people who love them and are committed to them no matter how hard it gets.”
Already, the DHS and its partners have made significant progress in
reforming the state’s child welfare system, including reuniting children with their families, finding permanent homes when that’s not possible, and providing additional support services, DHS Children’s Services Administration Director Kathryne O’Grady added.
• Moved more than 50 percent of the children in foster care for a year or longer back home or to another permanent living arrangement.
• Increased the number of children adopted from foster care for four
• Created specialized units in all urban counties to investigate
allegations of child abuse and neglect of children in foster care.
“Because of our partnership, Michigan has made significant strides toward lowering worker caseloads; expanding and enhancing services to children and families; and moving children to permanent homes,” O’Grady said. “We want the children who come to us to exit the foster care system better off than when they entered.”
For more information on DHS, please visit www.michigan.gov/perfectparent.